A TEENAGER has escaped prison after biting a seven-month-old child in his care.

Bury Magistrates Court heard Stephen Etheridge, of Ainsworth Road, Radcliffe, bit the baby boy after he became restless.

The 18-year-old was told by magistrates he was lucky to avoid a custodial sentence for such a serious offence. He pleaded guilty to a charge of common assault.

The court heard the boy’s mother left her son in the care of Etheridge on the morning of December 9 last year, so she could go to work.

He later took the baby to childminder Gail Jones. But the court heard when Miss Jones changed the baby’s nappy, she noticed a bite mark on the lower part of his left leg. She immediately contacted social services who then called in police.

The baby was subsequently examined by a doctor, who said the injury had been caused by an adult within the last 24 hours.

When interviewed by police, Etheridge admitted he had bitten the child.

He told them he had fed the boy but he then became restless and unsettled.

The child “hit him in the privates” after which Etheridge grabbed hold of the child’s leg and bit him through his pyjama bottoms.

Defending, Mr Tim Hopley said Etheridge had shown remorse over the incident.

Sentencing, chairman of the bench Mr Perin said: “We regard this as a very serious situation. It was an abuse of trust in that you were caring for the child. You are extremely lucky not to be going to prison.”

Magistrates handed Etheridge a three-month suspended prison sentence and 240 hours community service. He was also ordered to pay £60 costs.

The child, who is now nine months old, is looked after by his mother. Social services said they were satisfied the baby boy is getting the proper care he needs.